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One and Only
November 13, 2012 - Jen Zbozny
In a previous post I wondered about what were the most often repeated pieces of parenting advice we hear. Right up there with "they do what they see", is "it goes so quickly - write it all down - enjoy it". As parents, one of the toughest balancing acts we have is to hold onto the idea that present moments are precious and fleeting, while firmly keeping an eye on the future.
It happens in smaller and larger contexts. We are the gatekeepers of how long we can play at the park on a beautiful nearly 70 degree autumn day all the way in November. Shouldn't we find a way to stay outside all day, instead of planning for a few hours outside and then home to do chores, rake leaves, fold laundry? That kind of a day is a gift, just like the stolen hour we get to ourselves when our children miraculously sleep in on a Saturday morning. Who knows when that will ever happen again. It may be our only chance.
In larger contexts we find ourselves thinking about how they're only little once and they should enjoy the innocence of childhood as long as possible. In the very next moment we think,"if we don't teach them responsibility through having chores now - they won't have a good work ethic when they're older." It's a constant balance act. Go play! Be a kid! But don't waste food and put your clothes in the hamper!
I got stuck in that balance act just the other day. It was pre-school parent-teacher conference day. For me this may be a one-time event. Eve is our only child (although I would love a house-full so if you have any pull with miracle-makers - feel free to call in a favor!) and this will be our only year of beloved pre-school. I was proud of myself for remembering this as a one-time thing. I wanted to make sure I got it right. I woke early and found time to shower (alone!). I fixed my hair and made sure my shoes matched my handbag. Deodorant under both arms - check! And off we headed to school.
I had arranged with another mother that I would watch her children outside while she met with the teacher. My turn followed hers so it worked out well. I have to say I was pleased with my forethought there. Such a stream-lined, together, mom day I was having. On time, well-groomed, plan working, lunch already packed, dinner already prepped, and we even got dressed from our closets and dressers instead of laundry baskets! Woo hoo! Then karma happened.
Remember the whole beautiful, warm, November day scenario? Right. There I was outside on another gift of a day. There were piles of leaves. There were five children. How could that not turn into whipping the children into a giggling whirlwind of chasing eachother and playing tree with me? Note well, playing tree is a game I invented on the spot. It involves chasing eachother with handfuls of leaves. When you tag someone you become an autumn tree and toss leaves onto their heads. It was fantastic. We shrieked with laughter as we sucked gallons full of delicious fall air into our lungs. We collapsed into a heap of me and five children and pummelled eachother with oak, and at least two kinds of maple, leaves. It was exhilarating.
Then the other mom appeared. Flushed cheeks and sweating, I trotted my way into my meeting. On my way in I caught sight of myself in a reflection in the classroom. Leaves. In. My. Hair.
That's when I realized I had tipped the balacing act scales. In seizing the moment to run amok with the children I acted like a kid myself. It left me looking like less than the perfectly put-together mom I had hoped to project, but I have to say, I felt more like the mom I am, than the one I think I should look like.
That's my lesson for today. Somewhere in between modelling behaviors we hope our children will reflect as grown-ups and letting them kick up their happy little heels, we find our own balance. I hope somehow in showing our children who we really are (a leaping lady with leaves in her hair who gasps with laughter along with the children) they see who they really are too - and learn its okay to enjoy the moment. Even if once in a while, you blow your perfect cover.
How did your conferences go? Please tell me I'm not the only one who had leaves in her hair?
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